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Formula 1

An emotional peak in F1’s enthralling season

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
2 min read

To celebrate an action-packed year of motorsport that produced nail-biting title fights, thrilling racing, shocking twists and plenty of controversial moments, we’ve asked our writers to recount their standout motorsport memory or feeling from 2021. 

Our F1 journalist Scott Mitchell picked out a popular Monza victory as his 2021 highlight.

Being emotionally invested in the outcome of a race is best avoided as a journalist and pretty easy if there’s genuinely no allegiance.

Hoping for a particular outcome is different to enjoying the result when it comes, though.

Daniel Ricciardo’s win at Monza was a great example of that and being in the paddock, it was impossible not to get swept up in what happened.

That weekend was hectic. It featured the second sprint race trial of the season and a constantly shifting dynamic in the title battle across the three days, culminating in the dramatic crash between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Cutting through all of that was the blurry contemplation that Ricciardo and McLaren had just won the grand prix, with Lando Norris completing a one-two in the process.

We’ve been spoiled by a few shock wins over the last 18 months but a few factors fed into this being so memorable.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Italian Grand Prix Race Day Monza, Italy

The first is Ricciardo’s own storyline in 2021 – the move to McLaren wasn’t working as expected, he was struggling and a long way off and had gone into the summer break absolutely dejected.

So this win was a sudden redemption for him and banished a lot of demons he’d been battling for a few months.

It also ended the McLaren win drought stretching back to the final race of 2012, which was huge, and also ended a lingering injustice whereby the best team of the midfield had to sit and watch its rivals pick up shock wins over the past 12 months.

Plus, this turned out to be the only one-two of the season!

All this adds up to something quite crazy, something there’s no shame in taking joy in. This was not even ‘one for the neutrals’ – pretty much everybody can appreciate that outcome.

It represents what makes sport so great: that glorious combination of an excellent performance leading to an unexpected outcome with very popular winners.

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